The Writings on the Sea-Wall: Climate Science Alliance

As science communicators, we are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to translate the ramblings of the ivory tower into a relatable and accessible public dialogue. In my experience, our strongest ally in this endeavor lies in the artists, musicians, and storytellers within our communities. “The Writing on the Sea-Wall” series seeks to highlight the skilled artisans and projects that help us in our ongoing mission to connect people to science through tangible and impacting messages.


This painting was created with over 3,000 fingerprints from members of the San Diego community. Each mark of color, a representation of individual commitment to take action against climate change.

As a coastal community, the economic, social, and industrial capacity of San Diego is intrinsically linked to climate change. So much so, that the city maintains one of the world’s most ambitious Climate Action Plans. Along these same lines, in an effort to unite the community towards climate resilience and education, the Climate Science Alliance (CSA) was established. The Alliance stands as a bi-national collaboration of over 130 government, academic, non-profit, private, tribal nations, and educational institutions working toward science focused partnerships, capacity building, and innovative community engagement. The ultimate goal — a united front on the South Coast across agencies and stakeholders to come together and work towards safeguarding our coast and communities from the effects of changing climate.

As part of their commitment to building a community of practice around climate adaptation, the Climate Science Alliance has developed the Affiliated Artists Program to work directly with artists who are exploring themes related to climate change and environmental stewardship. They work collaboratively to develop projects, programs, and opportunities to bring artists and scientists directly into climate resilience activities.

CSA affiliated artist, Joan Green, uses recycled materials to create art with students representing our coastal ecosystems.

The artisans the Alliance collaborates with range from dancers to singers to more traditional art mediums. Working with students across the county and participating in large scale public engagement events, the seamless incorporation of art and science has resulted in a highly effective messaging strategy for the Alliance regarding climate change. The art allows people to connect to the issues of sea level rise, ocean acidification, and warming seas in a way that is more relatable than the science itself. Additionally, most of the pieces serve as a call-to-action platform whereas students and the public are encouraged to incorporate their climate commitments into the artwork. Through this program, the Climate Science Alliance has taken an effective approach for large-scale community dialogue and engagement regarding the most pressing issues facing our coastlines.

The Climate Science Alliance works with thousands of students across the county on climate change to incorporate art, literacy, and science in the classroom.

Alex Warneke (104 Posts)

Alex currently resides as a Science Communicator for the National Park Service, where she inspires thousands a year to love the watery world. Alex earned her Masters degree in chemical ecology from San Diego State University investigating the effects of heavy metal pollutants on the chemical communication between organisms. In her “free time,” Alex enjoys convincing the public that Ecology is indeed sexy. With that goal, she is a strong proponent of unconventional science communication and extending the broader impacts of science to the general public using the outlets of film and social media. When she is not busy busting a move or filming her next rap video, she can normally be found frolicking through the California kelp forest.


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